Promoting Oral Hygiene During Coronavirus Pandemic

Diabetes and other underlying conditions like heart disease increase the risk of serious health complications from COVID-19. We’ve known this from the beginning. Those who have underlying health conditions but recover still run the risk of serious long-term complications like damaged lungs. Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene can exacerbate diabetes — making it even more dangerous to become infected with coronavirus. How is oral hygiene related to overall health?

The foods we consume are normally converted into sugar — and energy, subsequently — but diabetes usually eliminates or reduces the body’s ability to perform this operation. High blood sugar can result in a variety of health problems, including nerve and organ damage. It can also lead to tooth decay. Did you know that one in five cases of tooth extraction are due to uncontrolled diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you should be sure to maintain an acute awareness of common symptoms of oral diseases. You might notice that the flavor or taste of foods changes over time. Notice a lingering bad taste? Check with your dentist. Another oral health problem that becomes more common with diabetes is “thrush,” or a yeast infection in the mouth. It often presents on the tongue and cheeks as painful, blotchy white and red sores. Dry mouth and gum disease are also associated with diabetes. 

What can you do to promote better oral health at home? Brush at least twice a day or after meals. Floss at least once a day or after meals. Be careful not to use mouthwash unless your dentist has prescribed it to reduce or eliminate symptoms of an underlying oral health problem — as using mouthwash too regularly can lead to one! Speaking of the dentist, you should try to visit for a routine oral examination at least once every six months. If your teeth are bothering you, schedule a visit before your routine checkup!

Failure to conduct routine oral hygiene can also result in a nasty cycle of health problems, wherein leaving one unchecked either causes or worsens another. That’s because poor oral hygiene can cause additional health problems associated with diabetes. Many of these are autoimmune disorders. Good nutrition, exercise, and proper hygiene must be maintained to reduce the risk of these issues — especially if you have diabetes.

These health problems include arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis C, HIV and AIDS, and osteoporosis. Coincidentally, many of these health problems are included on the long list of underlying conditions that make COVID-19 more deadly. Be careful! If you suspect you could have any of these health problems, speak with a doctor immediately. 

Additionally, certain medications can affect your ability to provide yourself with proper oral hygiene. Medications like decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, antidepressants, and antihistamines are all associated with dry mouth — and that can make it easier for bad bacteria to invade your mouth, causing a horrible cascade of other terrifying health conditions that could increase the adverse effects of diabetes and reduce lifespan substantially.